Revised guidelines on fatigue agreed

By Hendrike Kühl, IUMI Policy Director

During the 5th session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW) a draft set of revised International Maritime Organization (IMO) Guidelines on Fatigue was agreed. The draft will be submitted to the Maritime Safety Committee in December 2018 for approval. The guidelines were last issued in 2001 and have now been carefully reviewed and updated. Various studies and research on the topic were taken into consideration throughout the revision process.


The Guidelines provide information on the causes and consequences of fatigue, and the risks it poses to the safety and health of seafarers, operational safety, security and protection of the marine environment. The objective is to assist seafarers to mitigate and manage fatigue effectively.


A Working Group established during HTW 5 was asked to finalise the draft guidelines based on proposals submitted by IMO Member States. The Group organised the contents of the guidelines in six modules:


  1. Introduction
  2. Fatigue and the company
  3. Fatigue and the seafarer
  4. Fatigue awareness and training
  5. Fatigue and ship design
  6. Fatigue, the administration and port state authorities


Once the draft guidelines have been approved by the Maritime Safety Committee, the IMO Member States will be expected to bring them to the attention of their maritime authorities and interested stakeholders from various marine industries. Companies will be strongly urged to take the issue of fatigue into account when developing and improving safety management systems under the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.


The IMO has considered the issue of fatigue for several decades and adopted the first Assembly resolution on the issue in 1993. This was followed by the development of comprehensive guidance on fatigue mitigation and management in 2001. In 2014, the MSC agreed that the guidance was to be reviewed and updated.


This issue also features on IUMI’s Current Issues List and was addressed in an IUMI webinar titled “Fatigue’s effect on seafarers”.